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Aikenside   By: (1825-1907)

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AIKENSIDE

MARY J. HOLMES

Author of "Maggie Miller," "Dora Drane," "English Orphans," "The Homestead on the Hillside," "Meadowbrook Farm," "Lena Rivers," "Rosamond," "Cousin Maude," "Tempest and Sunshine," "Rector of St. Marks," "Mildred," "The Leighton Homestead," "Miss McDonald"

CHAPTER I.

THE EXAMINING COMMITTEE.

The good people of Devonshire were rather given to quarreling sometimes about the minister's wife, meek, gentle Mrs. Tiverton, whose manner of housekeeping, and style of dress, did not exactly suit them; sometimes about the minister himself, good, patient Mr. Tiverton, who vainly imagined that if he preached three sermons a week, attended the Wednesday evening prayer meeting, the Thursday evening sewing society, officiated at every funeral, visited all the sick, and gave to every beggar who called at his door, besides superintending the Sunday school, he was earning his salary of six hundred per year.

Sometimes, and that not rarely, the quarrel crept into the choir, and then, for one whole Sunday, it was all in vain that Mr. Tiverton read the psalm and hymn, casting troubled glances toward the vacant seats of his refractory singers. There was no one to respond, unless it were good old Mr. Hodges, who pitched so high that few could follow him; while Mrs. Captain Simpson whose daughter, the organist, had been snubbed at the last choir meeting by Mr. Hodges' daughter, the alto singer rolled up her eyes at her next neighbor, or fanned herself furiously in token of her disgust.

Latterly, however, there had come up a new cause of quarrel, before which every other cause sank into insignificance. Now, though the village of Devonshire could boast but one public schoolhouse, said house being divided into two departments, the upper and lower divisions, there were in the town several district schools; and for the last few years a committee of three had been annually appointed to examine and decide upon the merits of the various candidates for teaching, giving to each, if the decision were favorable, a little slip of paper certifying their qualifications to teach a common school. Strange that over such an office so fierce a feud should have arisen; but when Mr. Tiverton, Squire Lamb and Lawyer Whittemore, in the full conviction that they were doing right, refused a certificate of scholarship to Laura Tisdale, niece of Mrs. Judge Tisdale, and awarded it to one whose earnings in a factory had procured for her a thorough English education, the villagers, to use a vulgar phrase, were at once set by the ears, the aristocracy abusing, and the democracy upholding the dismayed trio, who, as the breeze blew harder, quietly resigned their office, and Devonshire was without a school committee.

In this emergency something must be done, and, as the two belligerent parties could only unite on a stranger, it seemed a matter of special providence that only two months before, young Dr. Holbrook, a native of modern Athens, had rented the pleasant little office on the village common, formerly occupied by old Dr. Carey, now lying in the graveyard by the side of some whose days he had prolonged, and others whose days he had surely shortened. Besides being handsome, and skillful, and quite as familiar with the poor as the rich, the young doctor was descended from the aristocratic line of Boston Holbrooks, facts which tended to make him a favorite with both classes; and, greatly to his surprise, he found himself unanimously elected to the responsible office of sole Inspector of Common Schools in Devonshire. It was in vain that he remonstrated, saying he knew nothing whatever of the qualifications requisite for a teacher; that he could not talk to girls, young ones especially; that he should make a miserable failure, and so forth. The people would not listen... Continue reading book >>




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